The Totality of Facts

Christopher Fenwick in The Point:

ScreenHunter_2018 Jun. 09 18.36According to the early Wittgenstein, language is isomorphic to the world: it maps onto it like a kind of grid, such that every meaningful sentence corresponds to a fact. His book’s opening propositions—“The world is all that is the case” and “The world is the totality of facts, not of things”—point to the interrelation of language, logic and objective reality. The world is not simply the sum of all the “things” in it. Rather, it is the sum of everything we can assert about it, i.e. the relations between these different things. For Wittgenstein in the Tractatus, then, the “world” is already the world of logical space, of statements that can be true or false. Language is a direct representation of this logical space. This means that “facts” in objective reality are not only what make a sentence true or false, but alsomeaningful, rather than nonsensical. Meaningful sentences have a logical form and correspond to a set of primitive objects that can determine their truth. For this reason, Wittgenstein claims that aesthetics and ethics—which cannot formulate propositions about such objects—essentially produce meaningless sentences. Indeed, aesthetics and ethics “are one.”

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